1 Samuel 29

Thunderstorm

The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?”

Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.”

But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”

“But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’ 10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.”

11 So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

Jesus writting in the sand

 

My Thoughts

This seems to be one of the lowest points in David’s relationship with God.  David goes willing into battle against his own people, in fact David said this in the build up to this passage when Achish told David that he would have to fight against his own people…David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.”

Up to this point we have looked at choice, our ability to choose and live with the consequences of those choices.  This however, seems to be one of those places where God overrules David’s choice.  The decision to send David back prevents him from killing his own people which would probably have made David and outcast in Israel for the rest of his life and the life of his family.

Think about the consequences of that, David would not be made king and forever stories would be told about the unfaithful David… what about the Messiah being a decedent of the root of Jesse?  God seems to intervene at this point to change the course of history.  This helps me understand how I think about my ability to make choice but at the same time believing that God is Sovereign and that despite our ability to choose…Gods will for His creation will be done.  In the next few stories we can actually see what this one action does to restore David to who he is…the man after God’s own heart.  Have a great weekend.

1 Samuel 28

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In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.”

David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.”

Achish replied, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.

The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lorddid not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

“There is one in Endor,” they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”

14 “What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night.

21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, “Look, your servant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. 22 Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”

23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.”

But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. 25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left.

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My Thoughts

Times are difficult, the Philistines approach, Samuel is dead, David is on the Philistine team and Saul has outlawed all the spiritists and mediums in the land. Saul is in trouble and he feels like there is no way of communicating with God?  He should actually feel this way because he killed all the priests a few chapters back.  How far does somebody need to fall before they simply acknowledge fault apologise to God and seek His face again?  It seems so easy to sit here and judge Saul for not doing this but I think it is a lot more difficult to do it in person.  Somewhere inside of us we still feel like our actions are a product of the world around us.  We don’t take ownership of them so we don’t need to repent of them.  But this puts Saul in a very difficult position because now he has to look outside of himself and his relationship with God for wisdom or instruction.

It makes me think about Judas and his betrayal of Jesus.  After Judas betrayed Jesus he was guilt stricken, he went back to the Pharisees and demanded that the deal be undone, he then gave back his 30 pieces of silver hoping to be absolved of what he had done.  My thought is this, what would have happened if Judas went to Jesus and asked for forgiveness, if he did what he did to the Pharisees and threw those 30 pieces of silver at the feet of Jesus?  It is just an assumption but based on what Jesus did for the entire human race, I imagine that Judas would have been forgiven and his relationship would have been restored.  Unfortunately people don’t discover this truth until it’s too late, we often do things that take us further away rather than closer… Judas hangs himself, Saul consults the dead…what would we do? My personal prayer for us is that we will simply lay our sins (the places we missed the mark) at His feet, apologise and continue to develop your relationship with Him – who gives life and forgives our trespasses.  Be blessed.

1 Samuel 27

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But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”

So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath. David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal. When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.

Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”

So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.

Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.)Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.

10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.”11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.”

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My Thoughts

Just when you think David has got his relationship with God sorted, he goes and does this.  What on earth was he thinking?  I think that we must not get caught in the belief that because this is captured in scripture that David is doing what God wants.  This is one of those places (as always) where the lens of Jesus (his life and teaching) needs to guide how we read the story.

Up to this point God has very clearly been guiding and protecting David.  David killed a lion and a bear, he was victorious in his battle against Goliath and has managed to outwit Saul at every turn.  The last encounter with Saul, David is offered his place back but David decides instead to go over to the Philistines. It is as if David does not trust that God will protect him.  When speaking to Saul, David says this…They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’

What we can learn from this is that David gives the control of his life to other people…they have driven me to serve other gods…they have removed me from the Lords inheritance.  As a result he moves to another land and lives a life that is affected by other people’s motives.  It is as if David is not making choices for himself (from the place of knowing Gods heart) and so is living out the consequences of other people’s choices.  It looks like David is a completely different person, killing innocent people, lying, stealing…  Nobody is responsible for the choices we make but us, if we blame our choices on our circumstances then we live in bondage to the world (people) around us, we are no longer free to live and respond to the Holy Spirit because we have given that role to others.  If we choose to be a victim in life then we seldom feel like we are responsible for the choices we make because they are always somebody else’s fault. This may be helpful to reflect on in our own lives.  Have a great day.

1 Samuel 26

Mountains and lake

1 The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?”
2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search there for David.3 Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there, 4 he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.
5 Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him.
6 David then asked Ahimelek the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?”
“I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.
7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.
8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”
9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on theLord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”
12 So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.
13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?”
Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?”
15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men must die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”
17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?”
David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listento his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”
22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may theLord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”
25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.

Spear and jug
My Thoughts

Try to imagine yourself in this story from different people’s perspectives. You have David or the man that goes with him (Abishai) on this suicide mission. You have Saul who seems to be going slightly crazy and keeps breaking his promises. Or there is Abner, the commander of the army and the kings’ protector. It seems to me that Abner and those close to the king have been poisoning Saul’s mind towards David…or at least that is what David thinks.
If I look at this story from Saul’s perspective, I see a God who seems to thwart Saul at every turn when he comes out against David. I wonder, if we were in Saul’s position would we feel like God is against us or trying to punish us. Often when we are in the middle of ‘living our lives’ we find it difficult to step back and look at the bigger picture. We can be so caught up in what God is not doing for us “his anointed” and feel a separation or distance from God. When I read these stories I see a God who time after time ensures that Saul does not get killed. It is as if God still has hope for Saul. Hope that Saul will repent and turn back to God. The story that Jesus tells about a “prodigal son” or more correctly about a loving father comes to mind. Our God is a God who wants to save, He wants to restore relationships or shalom even with Saul. If God can feel this way about Saul then imagine what he thinks about our neighbours and our work colleges that we have probably written off a long time ago. My prayer this morning is that God will let us see the world and the people around us through His eyes and feel with His heart so that we can know His will better. Have a great week.

1 Samuel 25:18-44

spice market

18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

20 As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. 21 David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good.22 May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshedand from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him rulerover Israel, 31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

36 When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. 37 Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone.38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”

Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. 40 His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”

41 She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife. 43 David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were his wives. 44 But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

Abigail

My Thoughts

David is angry with Nabal; he vows … “May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him”.  He is acting from a place of pride, personal honour and a sense of injustice.  While Nabal’s shepherds’ and sheep were vulnerable in the dessert David watched over them for him but now that it is payment time Nabal disowns David in front of everybody.  David is determined to right this wrong, to teach Nabal and others that this is what happens if you mess with David. But on the way Abigail offers David what Nabal should have and apologises for her husband’s behaviour.

What I feel we can learn from this is that David was ready for bloodshed – vengeance, but when he came across Abigail he says … praise the Lord because He has kept David from vengeance and bloodshed this day.  In life we make decisions out of pride and sense of personal judgement (entitlement).  We set ourselves to do something (often something that does not reflect Christ) and often feel like this thing won’t be satisfied until we do.  How often do we see the Abigail’s in our lives for what they are though, the moments when God intervenes to help us not follow through with our plans.  It seems to me that the man after Gods own heart was able to recognise and adjust his internal drives.  In this story God brings about the justice that David could not manage as a mere mortal.  Nabal (the wicked man) dies of a heart attack while the rest of his household survives. Abigail is not left as a widow but given is a home and protection.  I think that it is safe to say that God understands justice which is why we allow Him to act in situations like these.

1 Samuel 25:1-17

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25 Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran. 2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. 3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite. 4 While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. 5 So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. 6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good healthto you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! 7 “‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. 8 Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’” 9 When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited. 10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” 12 David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies. 14 One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them.15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wickedman that no one can talk to him.”
sheep-desert2
My Thoughts
How often does this happen to us in life? We work hard, we do the honourable thing and then we get overlooked or dismissed when it comes to reward time. We unfortunately don’t live in a time where it is acceptable to strap on a sword and go make those injustices right. Money always seems to be at the centre of these injustices. Even David was not immune to it… in fact Jesus was treated this way by a lot of people when he lived among us.  It is actually quite interesting because we, like David want God to go ahead of us and smooth the way. We want God to sort out the Nabal’s of this world and make them treat us with the honour and respect we feel we deserve. However, Jesus and David had to deal with these same things. It seems to me that what is important to God is how we deal with others, even when we have not been treated well. Do we act honourably are we fair? Because we can’t change other people, we can’t be accountable for the way others treat us but we can control the way we respond. In this story I am not sure that Davids response is what God would have wanted…but let’s look at that tomorrow. For today I think we need to look at taking responsibility for our own responses. Do we honour God and the people around us with our actions. When we act, do people get to see God who lives within us. Holy Spirit guide us today, strengthen us, equip us and radiate through us.

Psalm 57

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1  Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

4 I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

6 They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.

7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

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My Thoughts

I am inspired to go outside and sit under the skies and just worship God. Be exalted oh God…above the heavens and let your glory be over all the earth. David takes refuge in God in this difficult patch. He allows God to shelter him until the disaster passes. In this place  he understands that Gods love and faithfulness reach to the skies and cover all the earth. Allow this Psalm to penetrate your thoughts and shape the condition of your heart today.